The high-profile executive Bozoma Saint John has left Uber for Endeavor, sources say and Uber confirms. She will become CMO there, focused on a range of creative connections between its enormous talent portfolio and big brands.
Saint John has been at Uber for almost exactly a year. At the time she was hired, she told Recode: “I know what I’m walking into. I think it’s a really exciting time to tell the story well. Certainly there have been lots of things that have been swirling around [about] Uber but I’m interested in telling the story about the service and what is happening from the brand standpoint.”
The move is not surprising, given the many executive changes at the ride-hailing company under newish CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. Saint John was brought in under ousted CEO Travis Kalanick by board member Arianna Huffington, but was never made head of marketing there. Instead, she was in charge of its brand efforts, after having done similar work at Apple for its Apple Music unit.
But Khosrowshahi has been actively searching for a CMO to lead those efforts. Saint John, said numerous sources, also chafed under the new leadership of COO Barney Harford, who was previously CEO of Orbitz.
In many ways, the new post is perfect, focusing on her talents at linking brands looking for glitz and heat with those able to provide it from the entertainment industry. Saint John has relationships all over in both these worlds.
Endeavor is the name of the holding company for the powerful Hollywood talent agency WME that is now run by Ari Emanuel. It also has a spate of other units in sports, fashion and live events.
One thing that Saint John’s departure underscores is the now near absence of women at the very top echelons of Uber management, which — you might have heard — has had some gender issues in the past. Leadership and strategy head Frances Frei also left recently.
Along with a CMO, the company also is looking for a CFO and a head of product.
Recode’s Johana Bhuyian and I interviewed Saint John about a year ago in New York at Code Commerce and I recently interviewed Khosrowshahi at Code in June, if you want to watch.
And here is Khosrowshahi’s email to the staff about Saint John’s departure:
Team Uber –
I wanted to share the news that Bozoma Saint John has decided to leave Uber to be CMO of Endeavor, one of the world’s leading talent agencies.
Boz joined Uber when the company was hurting and when our brand was in a tough spot. From forming partnerships with pop culture moguls to helping sign deals with major sports teams, she has brought enthusiasm and spirit to everything she has done over the last year. She has been a fantastic ambassador and evangelist for our brand, and we’re in a better place because of her vision and her work.
While we’re going to miss seeing her in the hallways of Uber offices around the world (and she was also a popular guest star at many a team all hands!), as I’ve said before career moves are deeply personal and so I understand her desire to take on a new challenge.
Boz, huge thanks for everything—we know you’ll continue to be our biggest fan cheering us on from the sidelines. We’re excited to see what you accomplish next!